From little white dress to little grey mess… or why summer’s hottest trend is a no-no for any normal mum
15:56 GMT, 14 June 2012
Nothing stays white in our house for long. It’s like the book Fifty Shades Of Grey — except instead of sex, we’re talking discoloured socks, tired bras and bed linen that’s seen better — brighter — days.
I don’t hold out hope for this summer’s hot trend — the Little White Dress (LWD).
Pick up any magazine and you will see designer versions, from the minimalist (Stella McCartney, Celine) to girlie and virginal (Chloe, Dolce & Gabbana).
Before and after: Charlotte white and bright at 9am (left); and crumpled and stained by 9pm (right)
On the High Street, there’s everything from broderie anglaise minis to starchy linen. The LWD has proved a hit on the red carpet — there’s no better way to show off a lithe, golden body.
Audrey Tatou wore her Thirties-inspired dress to dramatic effect with black heels and red lips at a recent premiere. Victoria Beckham prefers a tailored LWD with vertiginous nude heels. Pippa Middleton teams her Issa number with bright pumps.
But how wearable are these flirty frocks in real life My challenge is to wear a cute, totally impractical, sleeveless sundress from Oasis (48) for the day to find out. I’ll be amazed if I make it past 10am without a stain.
Sporting a white, rather-too-short-for-comfort dress also means I need to carry out what can only be described as ‘essential maintenance’.
I am not summer-ready. My legs are whiter than white. They are almost blue. The only time I have ever looked tanned was on a beach in Scotland. I need to get to work and apply some fake tan pronto.
Twenty minutes later, the children — I have three girls aged nine, seven and two — are complimentary. They love the floral appliqu and the way the skirt puffs out.
Charlotte attempts cooking in the LWD
My husband likes the fact my new dress is not black, navy or a sack-shaped tunic. But I become deaf to compliments as soon as I realise that everything on the breakfast table is a potential stain: Marmite, marmalade, peanut butter.
While serving breakfast, I adopt a ‘no-splash stoop’ in an attempt to avoid messy confrontation. This defensive position for the white-wearing mother involves stretching your arms out and pushing your bottom back to avoid spillages.
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Sheer madness: Walking the dog in white is a disaster waiting to happen
After lunch, Martha cools down with an ice lolly —and is soon dripping orange stickiness all over me. I reach for the baby wipes.
When the children get home, I fire up the barbecue. Not only do I get charcoal on my dress, I get squirted with tomato ketchup, too.
The girls are enjoying this. Sensing how tense I am, they’ve realised all they need to do to get a reaction is brandish greasy fingers.
This is not going to end well. I’ve got a cupboard full of stain removers, but none of my whites ever stay white. So what say the laundry experts
Trisha Schofield of the Good Housekeeping Institute is quick to point out the obvious. ‘Most stains should come out if you wash the garment in biological powder at 40 degrees,’ she says. Could working this season’s LWD really be as simple as buying a box of good old soap powder
Trisha shares some other useful tips. For red wine, spray hairspray on the reverse of the stain before washing it. A little splash of white wine can help, but don’t apply salt. That is an old wives’ tale. Chocolate, grass and grease respond to a rub of washing up liquid before washing.
‘But we haven’t found anything that will remove foundation,’ she says. ‘Sun lotion is also terrible.’ I need a miracle.
Beetroot red: Eating dinner can be a minefield if your dress highlights every stain
Unfortunately, it’s now 8pm and the dog needs walking. I prance through the fields like Little Bo Peep, but Dolly doesn’t take long to search out the dankest water hole she can find and splatter me in grime. Great! Now I smell as well.
We return, muddy and fetid, to a glass of red wine and a salad of spinach, lettuce and beetroot. Yet again, I’m in dangerous territory.
Some wine on the bottom of my glass drips on to my skirt. A small piece of beetroot lands on my lap. That’s it. I’m going to head straight to a supermarket to buy a box of Persil Automatic. LWD — be ready for a real white wash.
So did it work I’m happy to report that most of the stains did come out. But I’m left with fake tan on the hem and a muddy patch at the side.
So I’m sorry to conclude the white dress isn’t for real life — I’ll be saving mine for child-free summer parties. And even then I’ll take a bottle of Stain Devil with me.